Advanced Degrees

Subject: Advanced Degrees
From: Daniel P Read <danielread -at- JUNO -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 25 Nov 1996 19:59:26 EST

>>>After many years as a technical writer, I think the items that most
anyone to be a good TW are:

1. An undying interest in learning and curiousity about how things work.
2. An ability to explain, in writing and at the audience's level, what
been learned.
3. An ability to get along with a variety of people: engineers, clerks,
senior management, programmers, and secretaries.<<<<<

I would go along with these statements, and add to it a sentiment about
the computer business in general. I have been in the hiring position
many times, and my criteria has always been personality first, experience
second, education third. I have yet to hire a programmer with a
Computer Science degree. I have yet to hire a tech support person who
wasn't a hacker at heart. And my experience in hunting for technical
writing shows that experience is key. I interviewed at one company that
had a large technical writing staff that did hire entry level
"researchers" right out of college.

To me, the best path to experience in the computer field (if you have
none), is starting as an entry level technician, especially on a Help
Desk. Many of the same qualities required to be a good technician
parallel those of a good technical writer (minus the writing, of course).
There is a huge demand for entry level technicians, and, consequently,
it doesn't pay very well. But it pays a whole lot better than pursuing a
masters degree. I'm pretty sour on post-grad education, unless you are
in a field such as medicine, chemistry, bilogy, etc. where the market is
closed to you without the higher degrees.

Daniel Read
danielread -at- juno -dot- com

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